Dr Cormac McSparron
Current Research Project
An integrated testing and surveillance programme for SARS-CoV-2 in Northern Ireland
John McGrath (PI) firstname.lastname@example.org
Deirdre Gilpin (co-PI) email@example.com
Jennifer McKinley (co-PI) firstname.lastname@example.org
Connor Bamford (co-PI) email@example.com
Michael Tunney (co-PI) firstname.lastname@example.org
Stuart Elborn (co-PI) email@example.com
Derek Fairley (co-PI) (Belfast Trust) firstname.lastname@example.org
Details of any grant/funding connected with the research
The initial phase of project was jointly funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. The second stage of the project is funded by DAERA in collaboration with the Public Health Agency NI (PHA-NI).
This project aims at providing an integrated testing and surveillance programme for SARS-CoV-2 in Northern Ireland. An important aspect of this project has been the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to model population to link with information on the sewer network provided by Northern Ireland Waters. This enables the development of the most efficient and informative sampling strategy for the programme and enables contextualisation of the wastewater test results in terms of the socio-economic and geographic patterning of the population. Cormac has along with his colleagues in the Centre for GIS and Geomatics at Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Jenny McKinley, Dr Behnam Firoozi Nejad and Conor Graham, developed an innovative methodology for identifying the most appropriate locations for monitoring the levels of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater facilities across Northern Ireland, and is actively engaged in selecting emergency sample locations to target localised outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2, and in developing a method to normalise rates of SARS-CoV-2 in waste water samples using information on the rate of waste water flow into NIW treatment plants and rainfall data from AgriSearch. The project partners include the Public Health Agency , Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs , the NI Environment Agency, Department of Health , Department for Infrastructure, Belfast City Council and NI Water Ltd.
In addition, Cormac is also an archaeologist with a particular research interests in funerary archaeology, the archaeology of migration, the emergence of social complexity and the application of radiocarbon dating to archaeological problems. He has just published: C. McSparron.2020 Burials and Society in Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast Irish Archaeological Monograph Series, No. 1, Oxford, Archaeopress.
Impact of Research
This project has made a very significant contribution to Northern Ireland’s response to the Sars-CoV-2 crisis. The GIS component is an integral and very important part of the wider project allowing a nuanced approach to site selection, presentation of testing results and analysis which would otherwise be impossible.